Balmacara, 2 August 1883 - Duncan Macrae

DUNCAN MACRAE, Crofter, Sallachy (87)—examined.

30848. The Chairman.
—How many people are living in Sallachy ?
—Eighteen families paying rent.

30849. What rent are you paying ?
—We have recently got an addition of land, and we are paying between us about £200. We have not paid anything of the increase yet for the new land.

30850. Was it hill pasture or arable land you got, or both ?
—Both kinds.

30851. Do you expect to be a great deal better off now that you have got more land ?
—We expect to be a good deal better if we get it stocked. We got from the proprietor everything we wanted; we are not going to make any complaint; we are satisfied as we are.

30852. That is what the people of Sallachy asked you to say here to-day ?
—Every man of them; we got advice before we came here.

30853. So that all you want is just to be left as you are ?

30854. Have there been tenants in Sallachy since you remember ?
—There were tenants in Letter before we came to Sallachy, but it was the proprietor who had it in stock when we got it ; we were not the means of removing anybody. It is nearly sixty years now since I came to Sallachy.

30855. And it is a very good place ?
—Yes. The place we had at first was pretty good, but the new addition we got is rather bleak land. But
we expect for all that that it will benefit us, as we were too circumscribed in our former lots.

30856. From what place did you come before ?
—Kyle Rhea, in the parish of Kintail.

30857. We have been hearing all over the country that people sixty years ago were better off than they are now; what have you to say about that ?
—It is my opinion they would be better to-day were it not for their folly; money is more plentiful amongst the people than it was in my first recollection.

30858. If you compare the condition of the people in Kintail sixty years ago with the condition of the people in Sallachy now, which are the better off ?
—There are no people in Kintail to-day ; it is only deer.

30859. The people who were in Kintail when you left sixty years ago ?
—Oh ! yes, they were far better ; they had ground, the mountains, which were keeping people alive, and now they are beside the shore.

30860. And although Sallachy is good, Kintail was better ?
—Oh I yes, Kintail was better; one man from Kintail was better than half a dozen; that is true.

30861. Have you a school in Sallachy ?

30862. Do the children all go to school?
—I believe they do; since they got the last teacher they attend better.

30863. Can they all read and write ?
—They are coming on very well. He is an honest fellow the schoolmaster.

30864. I suppose they are better scholars than they were sixty years ago ?
—There were no scholars at all at that time.

30865. Are they better clothed now than they were when you were a young man ?
—They have too much pride to-day.

30866. They are finer clothed ?

30867. Are they better fed ?
—Not so well I was fed on milk and the produce of sheep, goats, cows, and cattle, and fish,

30868. And are not the people fed that way to-day ?

30869. How are they fed now ?
—Potatoes and herring, bread and tea; they have no butter and no cheese.

30870. But surely they have a little butter in Sallachy, where they have good stock ?
—We have not got the stock yet, but we expect to get it if we can get help to put the stock in. We are very glad that we have a wealthy proprietor, who can help us when we require it.

30871. Don't the people consume more meal now than they used to do in old times ?
—Oh ! yes; six times more. One house will eat more meal than a town used to do.

30872. Is not that a good thing ?
—Meal is very good, but not so nourishing as what I was accustomed to.

30873. Sheriff Nicolson.
—Do you think the people lived happier lives when you were young than they do now?
—I believe they were more friendly than they are to-day. Many of them are becoming rascals to-day. The people formerly were more cheery.

30874. Is there more amusement than there used to be amongst them?
—They do not know how to amuse themselves so well as the old people.

30875. But you used formerly to meet in each other's houses and tell stories ?
—They were spending a good deal of their time in that amusement.

30876. Was there a great deal of nonsense about it ?
—No, no.

30877. Do you think it was a nice way of spending time in the winter nights ?

30878. They used to be working at the same time as they were telling stories, did they not ?
—It is they that would. The old people spent a lot of their time in budding up dykes on the hills.

30879. And when they met in the evenings what would they be working at ?
—Nothing, but come home and lie down.

30880. What would they be doing ?

30881. Would they not be twisting ropes, and would not the women be spinning in the evenings ?
—Yes ; and there is no word of that to-day. No house would be without its spinning-wheel then.

30882. And do they not use them at all now ?
—Very little.

30883. They made all their own blankets ?
—Every stitch that they put on.

30884. And do they make any now at all ?
—Very little. I believe they will come on; they are coming on a little.

30585. How ?
—They get wool cheaper now. Wool was very dear until now. When wool was dear they could buy their clothes cheaper than they could buy the wool. The people were all going to nonsense.

30886. Did they use to make their own shoes ?

30887. Every man could make his own shoes ?
—Oh yes; there was no shoemaker at all when I first mind. I do not remember of a shoemaker ; everyone just worked for himself and his family.

30888. Was there a good deal of playing on the pipes ?
—Plenty of that.

30889. Is there any now ?
—Very little, I believe.

30890. Do you think that an improvement ?
—Too much vanity is not desirable; moderation in everything is best.

30891. Did there use to be a good deal of folly in consequence of these pipings ?
—Sometimes, when they took too much whisky.

30892. But do you think they were worse people than they are now?
—I cannot say; but they were more friendly disposed towards each other —there are more divisions now amongst them.

30893. Were they wilder in their behaviour?
—They were more ignorant, I believe.

30894. Did there use to be fighting?
—Oh, well, I saw that sometimes.

30895. Do you mean in the old time ?

30896. Is there less of that now?
—Yes ; when there was a fight then it was very severe, the men were so strong.

30897. I suppose they did not go to church so much then as now?
—No, no.

30898. Was there a church at all ?
—Oh yes, of course.

30899. There was a parish church ?

30900. There would be no other church?
—There was a Roman Catholic church always too in KintaiL

30901. But the people did not go so regularly as they do now ?

30902. Did they use to play at games on Sunday
—No; but they went among their cattle and wandered on the hills.

30903. Do they observe the Sabbath more attentively now ?
—They give more honour to the Sabbath now.

30904. Do you think on the whole that they behave themselves better now than when you were young?
—Yes; they pay more regard to the Sabbath especially.

30905. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—As you are an old man, I wish to ask you one or two questions about Kintail. Were you and your predecessors long in Kintail ?
—I was born in Kintail, and my forefathers belonged from original times to KintaiL

30906. Have you ever heard your predecessors speaking about the battle of Sheriffmuir?
—I have.

30907. Did any: of your people go out at that time?
—My father's brother went to Sheriffmuir, and never came home; it was in Prince Charlie's time.

30908. By the population returns there appears a decrease in the parish of Kintail of nearly 500 people in ten years; do you know that?
—It is well known it is so.

30909. Why is that ?
—There are more of the Kintail people in Australia and America than in Kintail. They expected to improve their circumstances there. It is the money of the Indies that spoiled these parts first—it increased the rents. When a man comes from the Indies with plenty of money, he does not care but to get plenty of land, and he tries to take it from the poor by increasing the rent —he outbids the poor

30910. Are you quite sure it was the brother of your father or the brother of your grandfather who was at Sheriffmuir?
—My father's brother.

30911. How old was your father when he died?
—About eighty.

30912. And how long is it since he died ?
—About fifteen years.

30913. Could the proprietor of Kintail, like Seaforth, muster up a great lot of Macraes to support him in the field now ?
—Not the half.

30914. The Chairman.
—When you were a young man were there many old soldiers about the country who had beeu in the Highland regiments ?
—Yes: I knew several who had been at Waterloo.

30915. Were they contented or discontented?
—One especially I remember was quite contented, and used always to be in our house, being a relative of my father.

30916. We heard in another part of the country that when the Highland regiments were raised and soldiers joined them, they were promised by the proprietors that their relations should never be disturbed in the possession of their lands, that they should keep their lands, and that Duncan not¬withstanding that their lands were taken away from them, while their relations were at the wars. Did you ever have anything of that kind ?
—I believe there was a verbal promise to that effect, but no written promise.

30917. Do you say that from what you have heard recently, or did you hear it long ago ?
—I heard long ago that they had a verbal promise, but no written promise.

30918. You say you are eighty-seven years of age, how do you know that?
—My parents knew it.

30919. Have you always had good health ?

30920. And have you always been as happy as you are now?
—Yes, and more so.

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